How to Get Through PMS

PMS symptoms are miserable, but the symptoms can often be tamed by lifestyle changes, and, in some cases, natural hormone supplementation. A temporary hormonal imbalance is often the cause: progesterone levels become to low to balance estrogen levels, leading to symptoms such as cramps, bloating, irritability, anxiety-depression, food cravings, and rampant mood swings. Some women also experience increased headaches or migraines. Stress lowers progesterone levels, and so can make the symptoms of PMS even worse. Many of the steps below are good general advice for any time you feel stressed, tired, or experiencing personal burnout.


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    Try a hormonal cream. In many women, PMS symptoms can be controlled by the use of natural progesterone supplementation, using products such as Pro-gest Cream, which doesn't require a prescription. The cream is applied during the symptomatic period (usually the 2 weeks before menses). Possible side effects are mild (drowsiness, lethargy; headaches rarely). Symptoms such as cramps, anxiety-depression, headaches, and mood swings can be greatly relieved in many (but not all) cases, and the effects can be felt within 1 hour of application.
    • Note: women with a history of migraines may require a higher, prescription-strength dose; if the progesterone seems to help a little but not enough (reducing frequency of migraines, for example, but not eliminating them), you should contact a doctor experienced in natural (or bio-identical) hormone replacement.
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    Take the pill. In some cases, birth control pills make the symptoms better, but in some cases they make them worse. If you're taking them, you might try a month without them while using another non-hormonal form of birth control to see if it helps. If not, remember that you still need to use alternate birth control methods in the first month of taking birth control pills again (or when switching from one BC pill to another).
    • Birth control pills or other synthetic progestins can interfere and/or block the effect of natural progesterone. Choose one or the other, not both.
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    Go get the 'normal' PMS types of assistant. If you suffer from menstrual cramps or any other physical pain during PMS and prefer not to use progesterone, purchase Midol, Pamprin, or Ibuprofen. Hot tea, hot showers or baths can raise body temperature, relax you, & reduce cramps.
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    Follow your cravings with caution: limit yourself to the small size of fries, or one piece of chocolate instead of super sizing or devouring the entire chocolate bar.
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    Take iron supplements. You may find that taking extra iron supplements can reduce chocolate cravings. You probably could use the extra iron're losing a lot during menstruation.
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    Drink more water and take a calcium & vitamin D supplement. This helps with cramps and overall soreness.
    • Note: Calcium can block iron absorption. If you are taking iron supplements as well, be sure to take them at different times of day!
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    If you cry, think about why you feel this way. There are studies that show that women release more stress chemicals through tears than men.
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    Try not to elevate your mood through food or shopping; the positive effects are only temporary and the downside can be very long-lasting. Try to elevate positive moods; such as playing an online game like Perfect World as a Rogue, where you can feel free to let out your emotions as you see fit.
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    Minimize stress. The less you stress, the more of your own hormones will be available to help you, and less additional hormone will be needed. Try to externalize stress (exercise is a good method) rather than internalizing it.
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    Take it easy. Sleep more, treat yourself...this is the perfect time to get a manicure, facial, or haircut. Let the dry cleaners do your laundry. Order in Chinese food. Watch comedies. Create your own mini-spa. Relax with a glass of wine, a candlelit bubble bath, and easy listening music. Play an online game and join a faction like Rogue, where you can let out your stress killing monsters and at the same time also have people you can vent to about anything for an alternative support system!
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    Warn those who live with's only fair, and they might be able to help with the stress reduction, too.
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    Dress with more flair! People will notice and give you more compliments, especially if you wear a color, material, or clothing cut that flatters your shape. No matter what you choose: whether it is cute shoes, a sparkly pair of earrings, or a new updo, make that one accessory special!
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    Be sure to smile and compliment people as well. Studies show that even faking a smile reduces stress and puts you in a slightly better mood.
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    Have a girl's night out. They'll understand.
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    Think before you speak, but don't overthink what you say to others.
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    Exercise. It releases endorphins, which will make you feel happier.


  • If the very idea of using progesterone makes you nervous, remember that you are merely bringing your hormone levels back to what they're supposed to be; it's no more "unnatural" than a person with an underactive thyroid taking thyroid hormone. Recall that during pregnancy, your progesterone levels are a great deal higher than non-prescription PMS supplementation could ever make them (it's what keeps the uterus from contracting too early); we seem to survive pregnancy for the most part. Finding a prescriber familiar with the use of progesterone in PMS can also help; they can monitor your levels...but the fact that progesterone is allowed to be sold without prescription gives you an idea how safe it is, if used according to directions.
  • This is a time that you are much more sensitive to your feelings; you'll feel like you're "all nerve endings." For example, if you can ignore that you hate your job for the first two weeks of the month, then PMS week is the time that you'll most likely feel depressed by it. If this is a sore spot for you, then write down why you get up and go to work, however insignificant. Finding that you like the people, the work, or even the paycheck can ease the mental stress of a poor job fit. If you write down what bothers you, then you'll be more motivated to change that part of your life.
  • If there is something about your significant other, parent, or friend that really aggravates you, gently confront them about it without criticizing them...when PMS time is over. These are the people who love you, and as such, should be willing to listen or at least be aware of your hangups or issues with them. Consider writing out what is bothering you about these people; this may not be the best time to confront them. When you're not PMSing, you may find that they're not quite as idiotic as they seemed.
  • Take a calcium/magnesium supplement.
  • This, too, shall pass. PMS is not forever!
  • Screaming never helps anyone unless they are really in danger. If you feel the urge to scream at people, get away and write your problems down. It takes discipline, but your thoughts become much more organized on paper. You might discover that the real reason you hate your coworker is that they don't understand your reasoning, philosophy, or what's bugging you. Or, you may need another dose of progesterone.
  • If you find yourself having severe menstrual mood swings, and later on can't even explain to yourself (let alone anyone else) why you freaked out, suspect low progesterone.
  • Postpone any major decisions until you're past PMS time. When progesterone plunges, logic goes right out the window. During this week or so, you want to minimize stress.
  • Don't plan to quit smoking, lower your starchy carbs, or cut caffeine cold turkey at this time. This will throw your off-balance hormones even more out of whack. Timing is everything, and there are better times to majorly adjust your lifestyle.
  • Some more subtle early warnings that you might be low on progesterone (before you bite someone's head off or dissolve into tears) are lack of motivation—not tired, exactly, but "Why am I sitting in this chair doing nothing?"; and abdominal tenseness—there's something inside your tummy that doesn't want to relax...that's your uterine muscle, the biggest muscle you've got, and it can't relax well without sufficient progesterone. Try applying a small dose of the progesterone cream; see if the symptoms improve in an hour.
  • If you feel like biting someones head off, sit down and do something you like. If its listening to music, reading a book or even going out with the girls.
  • Going through PMS is normal. To handle uncontrollable moods, just breathe deeply and slowly, and try to calm down.
  • Take a nice, long, warm bath to sooth cramps and bloating.
  • PMS symptoms may be hard to cope with, but remember, it won't last forever. If you can manage it, fostering a positive state of mind can be very beneficial. Another thing you can do is spend time at activities you enjoy.
  • If you can't find a doctor familiar with natural hormone replacement, call your local compounding pharmacist and ask for recommendations. Most compounding pharmacists are very familiar with natural hormone supplementation.
  • Use an essential oil such as clary sage to relax the uterus by applying it directly to your abdomen. It helps to produce progesterone and it slightly warms your tummy, helping to relax cramps even more.


  • Not all progesterone creams are created equal; some seem to "suggest" they have progesterone but don't actually contain any. I suggest to my patients that they begin with Pro-gest; if it works and they can recognize the effects they can always try something else...if it doesn't work, it'll be obvious.
  • Progestins in birth control pills, Provera, Depo-Provera, medroxyprogesterone do NOT have all the same effects as progesterone, and can make symptoms worse. Products such as Pro-Gest (OTC), Prometrium (prescription only), and progesterone made by a compounding pharmacy do contain the "real" progesterone, identical to your body's own.
  • If you use progesterone, do not use any cream or lotion containing mineral oil or petrolatum on the area of application. Mineral oil/petrolatum absorb hormones beautifully...but they don't absorb through your skin, so the hormone never gets into your system.
  • Not all PMS is progesterone related; if progesterone makes things worse, stop using it, try the non-homonal suggestions above, and consider consulting a prescriber experienced in natural hormone supplementation.

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Categories: Women’s Health